Write your way to better health
Tend to judge yourself more harshly than you do other people? Regularly find yourself criticising yourself when you make a mistake? Time to put a stop to that. Because research suggests that when you start responding with compassion rather than criticism to your flaws and setbacks, you’ll experience better health.
A few different techniques are scientifically proven to help make the ‘compassion rather than criticism’ response your default mode, and one of them is writing yourself a self-compassionate letter. It’s not a quick fix, and the more letters you write yourself the better, but over time, writing to yourself in a self-compassionate way can help you replace your self-critical voice with a more compassionate one. Set aside 15 minutes to write each letter, and try to write at least one letter a month. Here’s how to get started.
Start by: identifying something about yourself that makes you feel insecure, not good enough or embarrassed. If could be something that relates to your personality, your skillset, your behaviour, your relationships, your family – anything you like.
Then: write it down and describe how it makes you feel. Upset? Anxious? Regretful? Be as honest as you can, because no one but you will see this letter.
Next: write a letter to yourself, expressing understanding and acceptance for the thing you identified at the beginning, following the below guidelines.
Imagine what someone who loves and cares about you would say to you in relation to this?
Remind yourself that everyone has things about themselves that they don’t like, and not one single person is flawless.
Think about how your life circumstances, including things that have happened to you and the family you grew up in, may have contributed to this aspect of yourself.
Focusing on being kind to yourself, ask yourself if there are tangible things you could do to improve or cope better, with the thing you’ve identified about yourself. Try to pinpoint changes you could make to feel happier about the situation.
- When you’re finished, put the letter down and leave it for a little while. After a few hours, pick it up and read it again. You can also do this the next time you feel bad about this aspect of yourself, to remind yourself to be more self-compassionate.